Holy Spirit in Islam

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The Holy Spirit (Arabic: روح القدس‎, Rūḥ al-Qudus) in the Islamic faith refers to the source of prophetic or divine revelation.[1] The archangel Jibra'il is according to Islam responsible for carrying the revelations to prophets, thus Holy spirit and Jibra'il are often used interchangeably.

The Arabic phrase "al-Qudus" (القدس) translates into English as "the Holy One" or "the Exalted One". "Al-Quddūs" is one of the 99 Names of God in Islam.[2]

In the Quran[edit]

The Holy Spirit, as referred to by the phrase Ruh al-Qudus, is expressly mentioned four times in the Qur'an in sura 2 (Al-Baqara) ayat 87,[3] sura 2 (Al-Baqara) ayat 253,[4] sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida) ayat 110,[5] and sura 16 (An-Nahl) ayat 102.[6] Three times the phrase is mentioned in regard of Jesus.

In Shia Islam[edit]

According to Shia Islam, the Imams received messages from the Holy Spirit. But while Prophets were able to see the Holy Spirit, the Imams just heard them in dreams. Thus, they attained knowledge that was hidden from others.[7]

As interpreted to refer to the Archangel Gabriel[edit]

The term Ruh al-Qudus also applies to the Archangel Gabriel (referred to as Jibral, Jibrīl, Jibrael, 'Džibril, Jabrilæ, Cebrail[8] or Jibrail (جبريل, جبرائيل, [dʒibræːʔiːl], [dʒibrɛ̈ʔiːl], or [dʒibriːl]),[9][10] who is related as the Angel of revelation and was assigned by God to reveal the Qur'an to the prophet Muhammad and who delivered the Annunciation to Mary.[9]

In the two suras in which the Qur'an refers to the angel Gabriel, it does so by name.[11] However, some hadith and parts of the Qur'an may arguably lend support to the alternative view.

It appears to be indicated by the Quran in sura Maryam ayat 16–21, that it was the angel Gabriel who gave to Mary the tidings that she was to have a son as a virgin:

She chose to seclude herself (from her people); then we sent to her Our Spirit, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (The man) said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for me (God): And (we wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by God).' " [Quran 19:17]

It is narrated in hadith that the angel Gabriel accompanied Muhammad during the Mi'raj, an ascension to the heavens in which Muhammad is said to have met other messengers of God and was instructed about the manner of Islamic prayer (sujud). (Bukhari Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:8:345.) It is also held by Muslims that the angel Gabriel descends to Earth on the night of Laylat al-Qadr ("The Night of Fate"), a night in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan (Islamic calendar) which is said to be the night on which the Qur'an was first revealed.[12]

Military campaigns[edit]

According to Islamic tradition, the Angel Gabriel (Jibrail in Arabic) was involved in many military campaigns of Muhammad helping, protecting and guiding him. The first was the Invasion of Dhi Amr. According to the Muslim scholar Sami Strauch, it is reported in Sahih Bukhari that it was raining, and Muhammad took his garments off and hung it on a tree to dry, while the enemy was watching, Ghwarath ibn al-Harith went to attack Muhammad. He threatened Muhammad with his sword and said "who will protect you from me on this day". Then according to Muslim Scholars the Angel Gabriel came and thumped Ghawrath in the chest and forced him to drop his sword. Muhammad then picked up the sword and said "who will protect you from me".[13]

Ghawrath replied: "no one, and I testify there is no God worthy of worship but Allah" and he then converted to Islam.[13] The Quran says regarding this incident:

O ye who believe! Call in remembrance the favour of Allah unto you when certain men formed the design to stretch out their hands against you, but (Allah) held back their hands from you: so fear Allah. And on Allah let believers put (all) their trust. [Quran 5:11]

Muhammad spent 11 days on this expedition and then returned to Medina.

Islamic tradition states that Gabriel was also involved in the Invasion of Banu Nadir. Muslim scholars (like Mubarakpuri) claim, the Banu Nadir were attacked because the Angel Gabriel told Muhammad that some of the Banu Nadir wanted to assassinate him.[14] Watt contends it was in response to the tribe’s criticism of Muhammad and doubts they wanted to assassinate Muhammad. He says "it is possible that the allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[15]

He was also apparently involved in the Invasion of Banu Qurayza. According to The Sealed Nectar, a modern Islamic biography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, the Angel Gabriel visited Muhammad while he was washing clothes at Umm Salama’s house, asking that he should unsheathe his sword and to go to the Banu Qurayza and fight them. Mubarakpuri claims Gabriel said that he with a procession of angels would go ahead the fort of Banu Qurayza and cast fear in their hearts.[16] This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collections in Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68 .

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Ebstein Mysticism and Philosophy in al-Andalus: Ibn Masarra, Ibn al-ʿArabī and the Ismāʿīlī Tradition BRILL 2013 ISBN 978-9-004-25537-1 page 36
  2. ^ Quran 59:23, Quran 62:1
  3. ^ Quran 2:87
  4. ^ Quran 2:253
  5. ^ Quran 5:110
  6. ^ Quran 16:102
  7. ^ Said Amir Arjomand Authority and Political Culture in Shi'ism SUNY Press 1998 ISBN 978-0-887-06638-2 page 26
  8. ^ Tözün Issa Alevis in Europe: Voices of Migration, Culture and Identity Routledge 2016 ISBN 978-1-317-18265-8
  9. ^ a b What is meant by the Holy Spirit in the Qur'an? Islam Awareness
  10. ^ http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/14403/Gabriel%20spirit
  11. ^ Quran 2:97–98, Quran 66:4
  12. ^ "English Translations of Al-Quran - 3 English Translations of Al-Quran & 1 Commentary of each Surah (97. Al Qadr)". alquran-english.com. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  13. ^ a b Strauch, Sameh (2006), Biography of the Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 472, ISBN 9789960980324
  14. ^ Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, p. 189. (online)
  15. ^ Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. xxxv, ISBN 978-0887063442, The main underlying reason for the expulsion of the clan of al-Nadir was the same as in the case of Quaynuqa, namely, that Jewish criticisms endangered the ordinary Muslim's belief in Muhammad's prophethood and in the Quran as revelation from God.
  16. ^ Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, pp. 201–205 (online)